Suit Claims UIC Allows Hostile Work Place

Steve Miller
February 11, 2019 - 4:42 pm

UIC employee Chuck Conner (WBBM Newsradio/Steve Miller)

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- An employee at the University of Illinois at Chicago is suing UIC and accusing it of allowing racial harassment to continue.

Ask 52-year-old Chuck Conner about his job as a garage foreman at UIC, and this is the first thing he says:

"I was born with a gift, and it was to do mechanic work."

But Conner says UIC is a hostile workplace. He and UIC reached a settlement after he said he'd been taunted at work. WBBM Newsradio previously reported on this.

Since then, Conner said recently, there's been more trouble.

"Being called a monkey, being called a boy,” he explained. "To listen to supervisors tell you that I look like a black Aunt Jemima, wearing my hat. 'Any monkey could do your job.' Been hearing the N-word shared around."

One of the co-workers Conner said had harassed him five years ago was transferred to another department. Because the co-worker was upset about that, Conner said, he made Conner a target again and even tried three times to run over him with his car.

Conner says the most recent time was two years ago.

"As I turned to look before I got in my car, I hear a motor racing high, so I thought maybe it was a kid with a high-performance car or something, so I took a look.

"If I wouldn't have taken that look, I probably wouldn't be here to tell the story."

The man Conner says tried to run over him was arrested but was allowed to return to work.

"Every day for me is, ‘Say your prayers and continue to go.’ You don't know whether you're going to go home to your family or not."

Conner has filed a federal lawsuit against UIC, alleging a hostile work environment and violations of the Civil Rights Act.

University of Illinois officials declined comment on the litigation.